SAY: Stories About You

SAY: Stories About You is a disaster relief app that allows children share their experiences from disasters, in a therapeutic environment.

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  • Technology

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

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Twitter: @gamechangers418 || Instagram: @gamechangers418 https://gamechangers418.wixsite.com/storiesaboutyou

Date You Started Your Project Started

01/23/2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The problem we're targeting is the impact natural disasters on the mental health of children. As climate change continues, the number of children affected by natural disasters each year will only rise. An estimated 5–43% of affected children will experience PTSD, depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. If not addressed, these problems will negatively impact children’s physical health, their home and school lives, and their futures.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

SAY is a disaster relief app targeted towards children. It allows children to share their stories and experiences from Hurricane Harvey and other disasters in a safe and anonymous environment. Through the app, children also have the ability to read others’ stories as well as take a short survey, donate to organizations in need, find shelters in their area during the time of the disaster and have access to different disaster relief resources. Our mission is to help children cope with the long lasting effects of Hurricane Harvey by allowing the community to heal and grow together. When a child shares their story through the app, they are able to express their emotions about a difficult subject without hate because the stories are shared anonymously with no comments. Also, when a child reads the stories of others, they are able to build connections with others who have experienced something similar, creating unity. We would also like to gather information and raise awareness on how children are recovering from the storm. Our app is available for help before, after, and during a disaster. As disasters continue to unfold across the United States we hope to take SAY to a national level.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey destroyed hundreds of communities and cities in the states of the gulf coast region, including our own home, Houston. We saw Hurricane Harvey bring disastrous flooding and utter devastation and despair to our home, and we knew of friends and families that had to evacuate and had lost homes. We experienced first-hand the damage of the disaster. Although we weren't seriously affected, Harvey still left mental scars on us, and we knew that other natural disasters have even greater effects on the mental health of other children, an issue that is easily overlooked. Even one and a half years later, many people were still recovering from the storm, and many children have PTSD, anxiety, stress, and more from Harvey. Instead of focusing only on physical disaster recovery, we wanted to focus on mental health during disaster recovery, something that personally impacted us.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

First off is the stories page, where children can read others stories and filter them by storm or zipcode. In the add story section, children can add their stories by picking the disaster they experienced, typing in their zip code and their stories. After submitting a story, it shows up in the home page of the app for others to read. Also, there is a survey for children to take for research purposes. Shelters on a map for easy access and resources and donations for post disaster are available.

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

"Sally" is from Pasadena, Texas, and in 2017, Harvey flooded her home and destroyed her community. Even 2 years after the storm, the sounds of crackling thunder and the ominous rain are still engraved in her mind. Now every time she hears the sound of rain, she can't help but think of Harvey's destruction. To help her with her PTSD, her school counselor recommends her to discuss or write down her feelings and her experience with Harvey. This is where SAY comes in. With SAY, Sally will be able to anonymously share her story, which is a form of therapy for her PTSD. By sharing her own story, Sally will have taken the first step in mentally recovering from Harvey through acknowledging how Harvey has impacted her. Additionally, Sally will hopefully understand that she is not the only one who suffered because of a natural disaster after reading the stories of others.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Most disaster relief apps only focus on physical recovery, which includes donations and shelters, but our app focuses on the mental health of children combined with disaster relief. Typically, disaster relief apps target adults, but SAY is a disaster relief that focuses on children and that raises awareness about how children are emotionally progressing after natural disasters like Harvey. It serves a platform for children to share their natural disaster experiences, something no other disaster relief app in the market does.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

To spread the positive effects of SAY, we partnered with CHILDREN AT RISK, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children in need. With their help, we gained a platform that enabled us to reach more children. We have been featured on NBC News and FOX 26 News. We even participated in CHILDREN AT RISK's Hurricane Harvey Summit to present the positive impact of our app to various nonprofits around Houston. Currently, we have stories, 71% of which is from high school students and 23% from middle school students, from over 25 different locations around the Houston area. For example, someone in zip code 77053 shared: “I have people that didn’t make it through the Hurricane Harvey.” Besides a large number of stories, we have approximately 150 responses to the survey within our app. We have had about 9,000 views of our app in the App Store, about 400 product page views, and almost 100 downloads.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

One of the biggest goals we have in mind is to expand our app to a national level. Clearly, our community is not the only one that has been impacted by natural disasters. Therefore, we hope to broaden SAY's impact. As disasters continue to unfold across America (ie. Dorian, Imelda, etc.), we are updating our app for each disaster, and we are working towards updating the locations of shelters and donation centers to reach communities across the US. At a regional level, we plan to add our app to Houston public libraries for those who do not have access to technology at home. Also, since our app is targeted towards children, we would like to add a feature where children can draw what happened in the disaster they experienced.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Search engine

28 comments

Join the conversation:

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Photo of Joseph Zhong
Team

Great Idea

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Photo of Filza Momin
Team

Wow, so awesome and creative!!!!!

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Photo of Elijah Beach
Team

Wishing you the best!

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Photo of Gary Whitcher
Team

Very good idea! Giving peace and comfort at a time of uncertainty wonderful.

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Photo of Yongjun
Team

Love to see kids’ commitment toward a great course. It is awesome!

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Photo of Kristin John
Team

i love this app!

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Photo of Claire H
Team

this idea rocked my world, 100%

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Photo of Lily Fu
Team

Very good app for kids! Both of my sons like it!

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Photo of Ye Wang
Team

Great platform to help kids whoever suffered from disasters become strong. Very smart idea!

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Photo of Nawen Deng
Team

Love this app, it’s very creative!! Sharing stories and feeling can help children who suffered from disasters!!! Love the idea!!

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Photo of Zhaohui Wang
Team

it is very creative to build such a platform so kids could share their feelings after disasters.The encouragement from people who experienced the same unfortunate situation bring kids more power to overcome the difficulties. Love the app and recommend to my daughter and her friends.

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Photo of Chunzhao
Team

Excellent App, set an unique angle to connect the kids impacted natural disasters together and provide a platform to share their stories to release their anxiety and pressure. Highly recommended!

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Photo of Weidong Guo
Team

SAY is such a creative project. It is going to have a very positive impact on helping many children who suffered from disasters. I am confident that they can expand this app to national level!

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Photo of Xiaoli Liu
Team

This App is fantastic! This app can help many children to cope with disasters. The app provides the kids a great platform to share their stories and information to help before, during and after disasters. Well done!

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Photo of Lizette Leon
Team

What a fantastic idea! My daughter was 3 at the time of Harvey and she stills freaks out with the tornado warnings when we have storms in the area. This app could be helpful for kids like my daughter that deal with bad memories or even traumas from disasters. I love it! Keep the good work ;-)

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Photo of Hui Long
Team

It’s a very creative idea. Great work to put it together as an app. I would recommend it to my daughter and all high schoolers.

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Photo of Zhongmin Tao
Team

I am so glad there is an app that cares about children’s psychological health. I see the passion and kind heart behind this app. I would like to advertise this app to more and more people to help more and more kids.

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Photo of Zhan
Team

This is a great app. It provides a positive way for the children to release the pressures from negative things. They can also meet new friends with the app. I like it.

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Photo of Mei
Team

This is a great app! Behind this app is a warm heart that warms up the hearts of those who suffered from the disasters. Hope such kindness can encourage the development of more apps like this and help more people.

Spam
Photo of Lihong Zhou
Team

This is a great app and excellent platform for children to share their stories! Very creative! Keep it up!

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Photo of Ankitha Gantasala
Team

Love the app

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Photo of Alina Bangash
Team

I love this app idea, very creative!

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Photo of Kiara
Team

ikr!

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Photo of Kiara
Team

Wow! This app is amazing! Will definitely be using it 24/7

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Photo of Ayla Amjad
Team

Wowowow amazing!

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Photo of Nishi Chat
Team

This is so cool!

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Photo of Amy Patel
Team

I’m glad to see these talented individuals focused on such a great cause. Keep up the good work!

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Photo of Joseph Zhong
Team

Great idea of "SAY: Stories About You"